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Lyndsey Gruber

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My Lesson on Hawley Bennett-Awad’s High Duty

Hawley Bennett-Awad and High Duty. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Let me start by saying this, I LOVE taking riding lessons. Ever since my parents signed me up for a weeklong horse-y day camp at a local Saddlebred stable I’ve been in love with everything about lessons.

Having someone there focusing on you and your horse and helping you to become better is so much fun for me. Being the center of attention is great, plus learning new skills and mastering old ones are important aspects of horsemanship, so lessons are the best thing ever. Were it up to me, I would never ride without a pair of expertly trained eyes pointing out everything I’m doing wrong.

Unfortunately for me (but fortunately for my checking account) this is simply not a realistic way to ride, so when I get the chance to ride with an excellent instructor I jump at the opportunity. Even if that instructor isn’t necessarily focused on my chosen discipline, I strongly believe there is something that can be learned from riding with everyone you can, be that a top tier dressage trainer, an accomplished hunter rider, or an experienced natural horseman.

So when Hawley Bennett, the veteran Canadian Olympic eventer, invited me to Copper Meadows for a flatwork lesson on her Intermediate super horse High Duty (who is for sale!), I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

Primarily I consider myself a hunter rider. I love to hang out in two-point, and there’s nothing quite as appealing to me as floating the reins to my horse and letting them poke their nose out as we canter along, so I knew I was in for a bit of a butt kicking. Hawley graciously allowed me to lesson in a hunt seat saddle so I didn’t make too big a fool of myself, but let me tell you, my abs were still awfully sore after all that sitting canter.

High Duty is an exceptionally nice horse; right from the moment I swung my leg over I could tell he was well schooled and responsive. Hawley had me begin with a forward marching walk in a long and low frame. “I can do that!” I thought, loosening my reins and swinging my hips to encourage a bigger step.

“Nope, don’t drop the contact.” I hear through my earbuds as Hawley kindly corrected me. “Long and low doesn’t mean no contact, he needs to stretch INTO the bit and stay in a frame while he marches on.” Well, fine, but that’s a whole lot harder! I corrected myself and HD responded beautifully, floating around the arena for a while before Hawley instructed me to ask for a working trot.

HD is fancy, and his ground covering stride was comfortable and allowed me to not look too terribly out of place. Hawley put us through the paces, instructing us to make several 20-meter circles and work on getting a true bend. As we warmed up she had me play with his gear shift, switching from collected sitting trots to working trot and then elevating my post to bring out his gorgeous extended step.

All through this I was told to focus on stretching tall and connecting my seat bones with the saddle instead of my using my hunter-y more closed hip angle to post. As challenging as it was to remain upright I could really feel a difference in the contact through the bridle when I was riding correctly.

As we shifted into a downward transition Hawley explained, “I can’t stand horses that pull, so I ride them off my leg and seat as much as possible. I want them to be schooled enough to go in plain snaffles as much as they can, they have to have soft mouths. So as you go to walk, sit tall and close your leg as you close your fingers on the reins, think about him marching forward into the transition.”

That picture of his hind legs swinging forward into the transition helped with other transitions as well. Lifting off into the canter I thought about the same thing, and was able to achieve clean and uphill departures, a testament to his training and natural ability. His canter was lovely to ride, forward and powerful without tossing me up into two-point (despite my desire to do that anyways).

Hawley reminded me to stay connected to the saddle and swing my hips to open his stride. While my hip flexors protested a bit (“You don’t do this enough for us to go along with this!”) once I got the feel down it made it much easier to sit the canter when I stayed flexible through my lower body.

As we cooled down Hawley took me on a ride around the Copper Meadows cross country course and we discussed some of the challenges that we both encounter as shorter riders. “When you have a shorter leg you have to find what works best for you balance wise. Sometimes that means I ride a hole shorter on one horse than another, or change my stirrup length often through a ride depending on what I’m working on. It is even more important for shorter riders to learn to sit up and back, especially on the way to a fence. When you don’t have as much leg to wrap around a horse you have to support it with your body.”

I thought back to the numerous times I’d watched hunter riders with envy as they hovered in two-point on a loose rein all the way to base of the fence, only to nearly fall off (or sometimes actually fall off) when their horse chipped the distance or decided those straw bales were just a bit much. For an event rider that moment before the fence could end much more catastrophically, and their “defensive” position is a result of that knowledge. Getting in the backseat might rub George Morris the wrong way, but at only 5’1” and with short stubby legs it makes sense for a rider like myself to use my upper body to make up for my shortcomings (get it) in my lower body.

Hawley and I also discussed what she looks for in a student. She has riders of all ages, levels and abilities, and for a top competitor it’s always refreshing to see her social media posts supporting her students whether they’ve just completed a challenging gymnastic exercise or finished running their first 4* at Kentucky. “If someone wants to learn, if they want to get better, then I want to help them. But I’m not interested in doing it for them, they need to be prepared to work hard. I’m not going to want it more for them than they do for themselves.”

While I’m probably not trading in my standing martingale and hoof polish for an air vest and leg grease any time soon it was a great experience seeing how the eventing half live and learning from one of the top riders in the sport. If you get a chance to ride with Hawley as she crisscrosses North America teaching clinics, take it!

3, 2, 1 … Go Eventing in 2018! Top Riders Share Their Resolutions

This article is brought to you by Athletux Equine. For more Athletux articles, please click here.

With the year turning over from 2017 to 2018 many of us are thinking “OK, what’s next?” In fact, in some of the Nation, dreaming about show season is all that’s keeping us warm on these frigid winter days and nights.

If you find yourself having to imagine a gallop out of the start-box in order to get motivated, maybe some inspiration from your favorite riders would help? The top riders in the sport use the down time to reflect on horse shows past, and mentally prep for horse shows future. We asked some of our Athletux riders to let us in on their resolutions for 2018.

Earl and Jen McFall, along with their daughter Taylor of Dragonfire Farm in Wilton, CA, have had a LOT of exciting moments in 2017 to reflect on, and they have big goals for 2018. Earl’s New Year’s Resolution for 2018 is to be more like Michael Jung. He says he almost has the hairstyle down …

Photo courtesy of Dragonfire Farm.

No comment on the hair, but surely all of us could resolve to be a more Michael Jung-like in 2018. As for Jen, she’s going for something ambitious, but still attainable: “I’d really like to be one of the top three McFall riders in the world.”

I’d say she’s safe with that one.

Fellow Californian Hawley Bennet-Awad in Ramona, CA has a resolution that my organized horsey friends will appreciate: “This year I’m going to enter every event the day entries open.”

Hawley Bennett-Awad and Jollybo. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

With mounts like Jollybo and Sasha Fierce I’d be eager to enter too!

Auburn Excell-Brady of Excell Equestrian in San Juan Capistrano, CA is ready to see what 2018 has in store and she’s learned to appreciate the journey as much as the destination.

“For 2018 I really want to resolve to carry forward the attitude I’ve had in 2017,” she says. “I’m more relaxed at this point in my career than ever before, and it’s been great to watch the horses respond to that. I want to stay focused on taking my time and letting the horses enjoy the process.”

Photo courtesy of Excell Equestrian.

Matt Brown of East West Eventing in Chadds Ford, PA, also is resolving to be better overall in 2018: “For next year, I want to work every day to become better than I was last year without excuses. I also want to be there for my friends and family in 2018.”

For riders, resolutions like Auburn’s and Matt’s are always applicable. Working hard and taking the time to enjoy that hard work can make the difference between a successful year and one that leaves us feeling burnt out and defeated.

Matthew Brown and Super Socks BCF. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

For Olivia Loiacono in Bonsall, CA, December 31st isn’t the only day of the year to focus on personal improvement: “I’m not huge on resolutions. I try my very best to improve every day. Whether that be my riding, my business, or just simply being a good human.”

Olivia Loiacono and Subway at Rolex in 2011. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

And with that, we’ll let you consider what you’ll resolve to improve in 2018. Rather it be a specific goal, like getting entries in as early as possible, or an overarching resolution to simply be better, like Matt or Olivia. Whatever your resolution is, may thinking about it keep you warm as we enter a New Year!

Surviving the Holidays

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the land

The eventers all scurry to get to their plans.

One more quick night check;

But hurry up quick,

Get everyone water, make sure no one’s sick.

And then off you go, through the snow and slush,

To get to your party without too much fuss.

 

But what should you do once you arrive?

Not a horse person in sight, how will you survive?

If you find yourself without much to discuss,

Outside of saddles, muck buckets, and thrush;

Well we’re here to help, we’ve enlisted the best;

To give you ideas, make sure you’re not stressed.

Advice from top riders, to help get you through,

Without further ado:

 

Matt Brown, and his wife Cecily, avoid politics as well as all things horsey.

They listen to Podcasts and pick a good one,

They’ll discuss it in depth. It’s a whole lot of fun!

Have a few drinks, to loosen you up,

Then enjoy conversation about what’s in your cup.

 

Olivia Loiacono, of Bonsall, CA

Has her own advice for surviving the day.

“A nice glass of wine and watching football!”

What a great idea! Not too big or too small.

Pick a team that you like, or even one you can’t stand,

And discuss the game with a glass in hand.

 

Another idea, that many riders can employ,

Is to discuss some TV that most seem to enjoy.

Game of Thrones won’t be on til 2019,

There’s something to complain about this Christmas Eve.

There are hundreds of great shows you can discuss

(Some may even involve a horse or two, that’s a plus!)

 

Now if after all this you still find yourself worried,

Auburn Excell Brady has more advice in a hurry!

“Just talk about horses anyways!” She says with a laugh.

Non-horse people are fascinated by jumping and piaffe!

So pull out your phone, show off pictures, it’s freeing.

Just try not show anyone that picture of your gelding’s last bean.

Meet Pandora, the Barbie Dream Horse of West Coast Eventing

This article is brought to you by Athletux Equine. For more Athletux articles, please click here.

Photos courtesy of Athletux.

Hang on a second, did Barbie give up the ride on her loyal palomino?

Wait a second … I don’t remember Barbie’s horse (side note: quite a bit of conflicting information out there on this horse’s name. Dancer? Dallas? Tawny?) having a hind end like that …

Well that’s because the adorable, spunky and incredible little mare on the right isn’t a fictitious plastic doll, but instead an exciting 7-year- old Swedish Warmblood owned by Laura Boyer and ridden by James Alliston of Alliston Eventing in Castro Valley, CA.

James Alliston and Pandora at Galway Downs. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Pandora is a well-loved member of the crew at Alliston Eventing, and after her impressive win on her dressage score in her first Intermediate at Fresno County Horse Park Horse Trials, the flashy duo is getting some much deserved attention.

“Everyone makes fun of (James) when he rides her because she’s little and palomino but she’s seriously so cool,” said James’ girlfriend and fellow trainer Helen Bouscaren.

Pandora’s results speak for themselves. With top ribbons all up and down the West coast in the Prelim and CIC1* divisions and that impressive Intermediate debut Pandora has proven herself a force to be reckoned with, all 15.2 hands of her.

With a bright future ahead of her, Alliston Eventing head groom Golly Martin recalled a time from Pandora’s past that really sums up the feisty mare’s personality: “She was so sassy as a baby. She used to always follow Kendra into the tack room when Kendra was working on the breeding farm where she was born.”

Baby Pandora. Photo provided by Golly Martin.

Kendra being Kendra Boyer, whose mother, Laura Boyer, owns Pandora, as well as her sire and dam.

Prostor, Pandora’s sire, was a nationally ranked hunter before being gelded and sold to an amateur when he was nine. A 1993 Russian Trakehner, Prostor is still a picture of elegance today. At 17 hands, the big chestnut has a refined look, and an impressive career to go along with it. Competitive in both the hunters and dressage, looking at Prostor’s long career gives a pretty good idea where his daughter might have picked up some of her tenacity. Prostor competed in the hunters and dressage with James well into his teens. In fact, at age 19 he received a Novice level dressage score of a 15. Even though Prostor was gelded, he still has frozen semen available, which is how he was bred to Pandora’s dam, Camellia E.

Camellia E, or “Marilyn,” a Swedish Warmblood mare, was purchased as a gift for Kendra as a 3-year- old and had a successful career as an A-circuit jumper.“Like any mare she can be a little particular, but she’s a super sweet girl. She’s a really talented jumper and was a great broodmare,” said Golly. Pandora is Marilyn’s only foal.

Pandora and mommy Marilyn. Photo provided by Golly Martin.

With impressive bloodlines and an elite rider with James, Pandora had some distinct advantages as she started her career, and she’s certainly lived up to her promise. “With James, Pandora is a super sweet little lady who tries so hard for James,” Golly said. “She is so willing on the flat, and super smart, learns very quickly. She is a phenomenal jumper, it’s so neat to have a smaller horse with that much heart and talent. She loves cross country, her ears are always perked and looking for the next fence.”

In watching any of her cross country videos or even just looking at Pandora in photos, it’s easy to see her enthusiasm for her job. Here they are at Fresno County Horse Park H.T. earlier this month, where Pandora clinched 1st place in her Intermediate debut:

Despite her enthusiasm, Pandora is a no nonsense type of gal. “She knows her job and wants to get to work,” Golly explained. “She’s straightforward no matter where we are; she just wants to get in the ring and show off, or go jump some cool jumps.”

With Pandora being on the smaller side and James Alliston being on the taller side, the height differential has the potential to add a challenging component, but James says Pandora’s heart and athleticism negate her small stature: “She has a really good size stride for her size, and she doesn’t feel small. She is a small package, but has the ability to compete with the more traditionally sized horses. It’s part of her appeal — everyone who sees her is instantly enamored, and comes to watch her through all of the phases.”

James Alliston and Pandora. Photo by Shelby Allen.

It wouldn’t be story about Pandora and James without mentioning her ongoing love affair with Happenstance, James’ 3* winning horse owned by Mary McKee. “They love each other. They’ve been stabled together at a few shows and we always catch them playing above the stall wall, or with their noses pressed to the same spot whispering sweet nothings to each other. She has very good taste in men!” Golly laughed.

So what’s next for James and Pandora? “She’s got a few more Intermediates scheduled for 2018, and then a 2* at some point,” James said.

The little mare has the heart and talent to make it far in the sport, and we can’t wait to see what this real life Barbie horse and her Ken can accomplish together.

Eventers Give Thanks for 2017 Blessings

This article is brought to you by Athletux Equine. For more Athletux articles, please click here.

Allison Springer and Arthur. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Life with horses isn’t always easy. The days are long and horses aren’t the best at letting us know all the hard work is appreciated. On those days where it seems like the stall mucking, leg wrapping, supplement portioning, and tack cleaning are endless it can be difficult to remember just why it is that we’re so in love with this crazy sport.

Allison Springer has had a roller coaster of year in 2017 — from a top placing at the Wellington Eventing Showcase with Arthur to a win at Bromont on Lord Willing, plus the announcement she will be coaching Region IV Young Riders. And who could forget that emotional farewell as she retired Arthur at Rolex. Beyond the trophies and cheering crowds, Allison finds herself most thankful for the people that she has been connected to through horses.

“This year I am thankful for horses because of the many wonderful relationships they have created!,” she says. “I am eternally grateful for my family who have always been my rock and have also always been awesome fun people who make me really happy! The horses have also brought in the most amazing crew of girls that work for me and are really an extension of my family! I am so thankful to have Sarah Zimmer, Jill Thomas, Olivia Caspers and Maddie Hogan (and all the other amazing girls that have been with us through the years).

“My students, sponsors and owners have all come to me through horses and I consider these people my family and some of my very best friends! This year very good horse friends of mine introduced me to my boyfriend and I feel incredibly blessed to have connected with this amazing person!

“And finally, I cannot thank the horses enough for all the blessings and life lessons they have taught me. Sitting on a horse’s back is my church and connection to the world; they are such extraordinary animals that remind me every day how precious life is and the many things I have to be thankful for! Happy Thanksgiving!”

Allison’s entire team all has something to look thankful for as they look forward to 2018. With plans for horses to move up through the levels and the search for a new head groom the Allison Springer Eventing crew has an exciting year as the build on the successes of 2017. We caught up with some other top riders to see what it was that horses brought them this year and asked them to send us some pictures that capture what they’re feeling thankful for.

Auburn Excell Brady of Excell Equestrian

“This year I’m thankful for horses because they help me to become my best self as a rider, trainer and coach. I love the challenges and rewards of working with each horse and rider.”

Photo courtesy of Auburn Excell Brady.

John Michael Durr of Durr Eventing & Show Jumping

“This year I’m thankful to horses for giving me a life I get to share with my wife Kimmie. I’m also so grateful for the eventing community; the family our sport creates that gives us a lot to be thankful for.”

 

Photo courtesy of John Michael Durr.

Jennifer McFall of Dragonfire Farm

“This year I am thankful for horses because they push you to think in new ways. Particularly about yourself and your capabilities, if you let them.”

 

Jennifer McFall and High Times. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Heather Morris of Next Level Eventing

“This year I’m thankful for horses because of all the wonderful people I have met along the way.”

 

Photo courtesy of Heather Morris.

Jenny Caras of Caras Eventing International

“This year I’m thankful for horses because they teach me something new every day.”

 

Jenny Caras and Fernhill Fortitude. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

 

Olivia Loiacono of OKL Eventing

“This year I’m thankful for horses because they constantly humble and inspire me.”

Photo courtesy of Olivia Loiacono.

Mackenna Shea of Next Level Eventing

“This year I am thankful for horses because they have taken me places I had only dreamt of and introduced me to so many amazing people, not only this year but every year. I wouldn’t trade this year’s experiences for the world. Cheers to 2017.”

Photo courtesy of Mackenna Shea.

Cheers indeed! So grab a glass of wine, a plate with way too many carbs, and enjoy some time thinking about what makes you thankful for these four-legged creatures!

Meet Hawley Bennett-Awad’s Sweet ‘n’ Spicy New Ride Sasha Fierce

This article is brought to you by Athletux Equine. For more Athletux articles, please click here.

Layla’s “Sasha Fierce” side comes out to play in a jump school with Hawley Bennett. Photo by Danielle Surret.

Powerhouse to the jumps but sweet as can be in her stall, Sasha Fierce truly embodies the alter-ego persona Queen Bey had in mind when she released the album the little gray mare is named for.

“She is such a sweet mare on the ground, we wanted to give her a really sweet barn name,” owner Kathie Hackler says of “Layla.” “But when she gets to work she’s completely different. She’s so focused on the job and well, fierce. So when it was time to give her a show name I turned to David and said ‘There’s no choice, she’s got to be Sasha Fierce.’”

David being David Acord of New Heights Training Stables in Pleasanton, California, who helped Kathie find and purchase Layla as an upper level prospect in 2011: “We were looking for something that could go to Kentucky one day, and Layla absolutely fit the bill. She’s such a great horse.”

David had the ride on Layla until this fall, making the sacrifice to send Layla to Hawley Bennett-Awad in order to focus on his young family and burgeoning coaching business.

“It was a tough decision to send her to Hawley, but it was the right thing to do,” he explains. “She’s such an incredible horse that she really needs someone with more time and the ability to instill confidence in her through building a really strong relationship. I know Hawley always liked her, and when we realized it would be best for Layla to go somewhere else to reach her full potential, Hawley was the obvious choice.”

Layla’s “not so fierce” side, with Hawley’s dog Bento. Photo courtesy of Hawley Bennett-Awad.

Kathie agrees. “It was hard sending her away, like sending a child off to college, but I did a lot of research and the fact that Hawley is such a capable rider and is located at Copper Meadows made the decision even easier.”

Layla had a strong career with David, reaching the two-star level this year at Fresno County Horse Park in February. David says, “We had a couple really nice starts, but the last couple outings weren’t as great. For as bold as she is she just lost some confidence she needs to gain back. Hawley’s access to amazing cross country facilities will really help Layla be the best horse she can be.”

He adds, “She can be feisty in dressage, and needs a rider that knows how to ride that type of horse. Hawley gets along with her beautifully and I can’t wait to see what they do together.”

“I love riding her — she really ticks every box for what I like in a horse,” says Hawley of her newest mount.

Everyone has a type, and for Hawley, Layla is a great embodiment of what an upper level horse should be. “She’s got this wonderful attitude in the barn, she’s so quiet in her stall and so easy to be around. But then you take her out cross country and you see a completely different side to her. She knows her job and wants to do it. I love that in a horse.”

And at 12 years old she has plenty of time to go the distance with Hawley in the irons. “She’s young still, and was started a bit late so there’s even less mileage there,” Hawley says. “I can absolutely see her being a team horse, going to the Pan Ams or even the Olympics in a few years. She’s definitely the type of horse you want to build a relationship with, so we’ll take our time and get to know each other for a bit. I’m just super excited about her and so grateful to David and Kathie for choosing me to take her on.”

Hawley and Layla with David O’Connor and Susie Hutchinson during a training session last week. Photo by Danielle Surret.

Kathie and David are just as excited to watch the pair grow. “Hawley’s someone I’ve admired for a long time. She’s obviously an incredibly talented rider but she has so much integrity and is also a wonderful person,” David says. “I knew Layla would respond well to how she rides, and I really think they’re going to be a pair to watch.

Kathie concurs, “I really think Layla wants it, she wants to be a top horse, and Hawley wants that for her as well. I can’t wait to watch them, it’s going to be so great.”

“To have an opportunity like this, on such a great horse, is something pretty rare,” Hawley says of the partnership. “When David called me I actually asked him if he was sure, it’s just not something that happens. It takes so many people to develop these horses to this level, and Layla would not be the horse she is today were it not for the great job David did with her, and the amazing support system Layla has with Kathie as an owner.

“It’s amazing the dedication they both have to the horse and I just feel incredibly lucky to be a part of the team. These friendships and partnerships we make are just so incredibly important and it’s critical to keep all the doors open. David was vital to developing Layla, and vital to sending her to me. If she makes it to Kentucky, he’ll be in the owner’s box.”

Whether she’s snoozing in her comfy stall in the Southern California sunshine, or cruising around the cross country course at Copper Meadows, Sasha Fierce has quite the fan club. And with a name inspired by the likes of Beyoncé, there’s no telling what she’s capable of.

Something for Everyone at Excell Equestrian

This article is brought to you by Athletux Equine. For more Athletux features, please click here.

Photo by Lisa Takada.

Balancing a personal life (or a resemblance of one, at least) and a professional riding career is not a task for the faint of heart. For Auburn Excell Brady of San Juan Capistrano, it’s all a juggling act that she’s happy to take on in order to find success within the sport of eventing, and it’s an opportunity to give riders of all ages and levels an opportunity to succeed with horses.

Auburn currently operates out of two facilities in San Juan Capistrano, Sycamore Trails and The Oaks. The Oaks was a recent addition to her program, adding another top quality facility with which to attract more clientele.

And her clientele is anything but colorless. Auburn spends her time coaching up and coming young riders, adult amateurs and Pony Club kids because she feels it is vital to encourage people of all walks of life to experience eventing.

“I was always really interested in Pony Club because of the horsemanship and horse management aspect of it,” Auburn says. “I really appreciated that these kids were learning and getting an education about horses. I wanted my riders to gain more knowledge about horsemanship, having a couple of hours each week to study and learn together in a group is developing knowledge and a skill set as well as a fun bonding opportunity.”

She now operates Excell Equestrian’s Pony Club Riding Center out of the Sycamore Trails facility, and with the help of assistant trainers Stephanie Atkinson and Rebecca Farley the program is thriving with kids who are hungry to learn everything they can about horsemanship and riding. The well-oiled machine also runs thanks to the help of Joanne Thorman, who keeps everything running smoothly at the barn as well as with the Pony Club, with the help of the parents of the Pony Club kids.

“This team really allows me to focus on moving forward with my goal of finding a partner I can ride at the upper levels,” Auburn said. “It really helps me balance all the aspects of running a competition barn and creates an environment for success for everyone involved. I have found that I need a good team of professionals to help steer the ship!”

With the addition of The Oaks to her facility roster, Auburn plans to have a select group of clients and horses that train out of the state of the art farm. “My plan is to train and prepare the competition horses at The Oaks — it’s just a great facility that caters to the equestrian world. I really enjoy gathering inspiration from other professionals. It’s also great because we have access to training with (show jump riders Joie Gatlin and Morley Abey), who are masters of their disciplines. I really appreciate them bringing me to The Oaks and all of their show jumping coaching.” Auburn also works with Wilma Blakely for her dressage, ensuring that her education is as well-rounded as it can be.

“Sycamore Trails will continue to have the training and Pony Club program out of it, so there is literally something for everyone with our program.”

What is the recipe for success when it comes to balancing so many plates in the air? “It really comes down to having a team of good people,” Auburn says. “I try to be really consistent with the team so that everyone knows what to expect, and I try to be really clear with parents about their child’s progress and expectations. We make a plan each week and we communicate really well so that everything can run as smoothly as possible.”

“I have definitely had to learn to be patient,” she continues. “I am all about developing partnerships, both with my horses and with my team, and that is a process that takes time. I’m a goal driven person — I’m still looking for my horse of a lifetime to take on that top level. But I have to be realistic and know how to manage my business here to set myself up.”

Auburn is also quick to credit her husband, Sean Brady, who has stood by her side in solidarity through thick and thin and the normal, unpredictable ups and downs of the horse world. “I really couldn’t do any of this without his support, I got really lucky,” she says.

At the end of the day, Auburn has learned how to scrap her way through to achieve her goals. An upcoming trip to Argentina looms to find some new prospective competition horses, and her business continues to grow. She has found a way to pursue her personal competition goals while also helping others start the journey in which she found so much satisfaction many years ago.